I HAVE OBSERVED a large number of politicians and network broadcasters in a frenzy to take away guns. Make no mistake – I think anyone who commits such a crime against children should be killed. No exceptions. But as a former deputy, I have experience in matters similar to this and felt the need to point out several things.
Some people use pistols to commit suicide. However, I have seen people who used rifles or shotguns for this purpose. I have observed the results of the cutting of the wrists; jumping off of bridges; striking bridge supports in a vehicle; jumping in front of a moving vehicle; taking poison; overdosing on prescription drugs; and placing a garden hose from the muffler to the window of a car. I saw the results of a man who used a hand grenade to end his life.
Accidental deaths include people who die in traffic accidents or die as the result of being hit by a car.
I have seen workers pulled into industrial machinery; men who were shot in hunting accidents; and those who fell out of deer stands. Others drown in lakes, rivers and even septic tanks.
People make mistakes and burn themselves to death. This includes sleeping while smoking a cigarette, failure to properly use a turkey fryer, food left on the stove, carbon monoxide poisoning and mixing alcohol with drugs. Young children have been accidentally left to drown in their bathtubs.
WE HAVE HAD people drive into sinkholes on our roadways, and run over by trains while working with the railroad or being passed out drunk on the tracks. Do not forget about people who have food poisoning. I witnessed a man who had been electrocuted while working with a crane. Another time, I witnessed two people who had burned to death following an Interstate 20 accident.
And we should not forget the large number of newborn babies who died at the hands of physicians in partial-birth abortions.
I should finally mention several mass casualty incidents. The Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed a large number of people, including a day care facility. There were two separate attacks on the World Trade Center, which resulted in massive loss of life. In Tokyo, sarin gas was used to kill people on a subway train. Anthrax was used at a Senate office building and other locations.
In none of these deaths was a weapon fired.
IF YOU REALLY want to help protect our citizens, there are many things you can do either individually or as a community:
• Have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in every home.
• Stop people from smoking or using any tobacco products.
• Eliminate all parking lots at bars, nightclubs or anywhere they sell alcohol by the drink. If it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, why do we allow people to drive up to a bar and then drive home?
(The writer is a former deputy sheriff and lieutenant with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. He lives in Augusta.)